Sunday, June 11, 2006

Playing politics: Soccer and Iran

Mexico meets Iran today in a World Cup fixture in Nuremburg. But media attention will be focused as much outside of the stadium as on the pitch.

Jewish groups are planning a protest in response to Iranian president Ahmadinejad's holocaust-denying remarks. Via the BBC:

One of the biggest fears the Germans have for the World Cup is that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will come here to watch his team play. His comments casting doubt on the Holocaust caused outrage in Germany.

This match is serving as a focus for protests against him, even though he is only sent his deputy, Vice-President Mohammed Aliabadi.

Iranian expats will also be putting on a separate protest outside the game.

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Mexican football, so I would be rooting them on anyway.


In other axis-of-evil soccer news, a new Iranian film called Offside directed by Jafar Panahi tells the story of Iranian girls and women who are caught trying to sneak into a World Cup qualifier in contravention of a ban on female attendance at matches.

From a review in the New Statesman:

...anyone who watches Iran in the World Cup, and also sees Offside, may find it difficult not to imagine the persecuted female fans, just out of view, just off-camera. With this quiet, profound film, Panahi shows that divisions between the personal and political are as vulnerable as a striker's metatarsal.
One more reason to pull for Mexico.

T-tags: soccer, Football, World Cup 2006, germany, Iran, World Cup, Offside, Mexico, axis-of-evil

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